Caleb Crabtree continues to seek his first tournament title this season, and the Platte County senior knows chances continue to dwindle on the Pirates’ loaded schedule.
A two-time state qualifier, Crabtree ended up third at 152 pounds on Saturday, Jan. 24 in the Platte County Invitational after a disappointing semifinal loss. He’s also had recent disappointing results that included crashing out of the Bobcat Classic at Basehor, Kan., and holding on for a 5-3 decision against Park Hill’s Lucky Brockman during a dual match he dominated early.
Crabtree continues to eye an elusive Class 3 Missouri State Wrestling Championships title after finishing second at 138 last year and third at 132 in 2013.
“We know we’ve got to keep improving week after week,” Crabtree said. “When we get back in that (practice) room after a bad tournament, we work just as hard to get even better.
“I need to improve more. I’ve been in kind of a funk, wrestling-wise.”
Platte County finished with eight medalists (top-three finishers) in its home tournament with 11 total in the place matches, reclaiming the team title for the first time since 2007. The Pirates scored 290½ points and easily outdistanced second-place Oak Grove (236½).
In fact, Platte County wrapped up its first tournament championship of this season by the end of the pool matches.
Matthew Schmitt (126) and Johnny Blankenship (160) were the Pirates’ champions, while Ethan Karsten finished second at 145 after his third loss this season — all against nationally ranked opponents. That trio continues to lead Platte County’s efforts this season with the final tournament before the postseason scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30 at Blue Springs South High School.
“Matthew, Ethan and Johnny, they are all ready to go and prepared,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “We’ve got some other things to work on with a couple of other people, but those three are wrestling lights out right now and doing a great job.
“But they are returning state champs, they should be ready to go.”
A two-time state finalist and defending champion at 106, Schmitt recorded five falls on his way to the 126 title and only went past the first period twice. He built an 11-1 lead against Oak Grove’s Shawn Kavadas in the championship match before scoring the pin in 3 minutes, 33 seconds.
Kavadas ranks No. 1 in Class 2, while Schmitt is No. 1 in Class 3, according to showmewrestling.com.
Blankenship, No. 2 at 160 in Class 3, also took down a top-ranked foe from Oak Grove in his final. He ended up with a 7-1 decision against Logan Cairer after just missing out on a pair of near-fall points at the end of the third period that would have made it a major decision.
Up to 31-6 on the season, Blankenship has won 13 in a row as he enters the stretch while seeking a second straight state title. He won the 145 bracket last year.
Karsten ended up second at a tournament for the second time this season after being named the most outstanding wrestler at Basehor the week before. He faced Seneca’s Will Roark, undefeated and nationally ranked, in the final, and the three-time state finalist and two-time champion scored a first-period takedown to take a 2-0 lead.
Karsten and Roark then exchanged escapes, and Platte County’s junior defending state champion managed only a few shot attempts while successfully fending off some other attacks in a 3-2 decision loss.
Roark won a matchup between the two at last year’s Platte County Invitational by a score of 13-3. He won most outstanding wrestler for his efforts in a bracket that also included Belton’s Caleb Chevalier (No. 2 in Class 3 behind Karsten) and Omaha Skutt Catholic’s Bailey Vanderpool (No. 2 in Class B for Nebraska’s top team in that division.)
“We needed to create a lot more action (against Roark), a few more flurries,” Burress said.
Derek Kincaid (106), Crabtree, Dakota Schmidt (170), Adam Muehlebach (195) and Casey Jumps (220) all won their third-place matches.
Crabtree came back from a 6-5 decision loss to Carthage’s Edxel Morales, a Class 3 state qualifier at 145 last year, in the semifinals. He beat Oak Grove’s Tristan Stack 7-3 to secure a medal.
Schmidt, a backup for Platte County at 160, moved into the 170 spot after Louden Bredeson couldn’t go and scored 22½ team points for the Pirates, going 5-2 and improving to 15-3 on the season. Muehlebach and Jumps both lost close decisions in the semifinals before coming back to place third.
Platte County’s five junior varsity wrestlers scored 49 points with a pair of fifth-place finishers in the 10-team varsity field, coming in 28 points ahead of Excelsior Springs to claim in 10th place.
Olathe North 40, Platte County 28
The Eagles, ranked No. 2 in Kansas’ largest classification, won the final five matches to steal away a dual victory.
Minus a pair of regulars, Platte County dropped to 4-2 in duals after adding the Thursday, Jan. 22 matchup to the schedule at the last minute. Muehlebach and Trey Dockery — injured earlier in the week during a dual victory against Raytown South — were out, but the Pirates still held a 28-16 advantage after Blankenship pinned Kaleb Brooks in the first period of the 160 match.
However, five straight ranked wrestlers for Olathe North scored victories to close out the dual, including Jadon McGaha — second in Class 6A according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association — going to overtime to beat Jumps 2-1 at 220.
Olathe North led 13-0 before Platte County ran off a string of five wins in the next six. That run included pins for Karsten, Crabtree and Blankenship. Crabtree pinned Tyler Moulden, a senior ranked No. 2 at 145 who moved up a weight class after Karsten pinned him at the recent Basehor tournament.
Platte County 49, Raytown South 25
The Pirates scored five pins and endured an injury to Dockery on Tuesday, Jan. 20 to stay perfect in Suburban League Blue Division dual.
Crabtree also managed to beat Kaulic Williams 5-4 despite the Raytown South 152-pounder scoring both of the match’s takedowns. Crabtree scored a key reversal late in the first period and also benefited from a penalty point.
Dockery dislocated his knee cap and forfeited his match at 132 after just 23 seconds. That was the Pirates’ only loss in the first eight matches of a dual that started at 113.
Overall, Platte County won 9-of-14 matches.